Military Feature: Spouses active in community

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Nicole Thompson is the Service Center Manager for the Clovis Red Cross. She started in working in Clovis in September of 2006 and has been with the Red Cross for 10 years.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Cannon Air Force Base airmen and family members have a history of helping in the community, say Cannon officials.

Two military wives have gone a step further, from volunteer to paid employee at local non-profit organizations.

Nicole Thompson has chosen to devote her time to the Red Cross because of its long-standing tradition of helping the military.

“The organization was built on strong women — their men were off at war time and they wanted to help,” Thompson said.

Like Thompson, Christine Caldwell has fulfilled her community side by going to work for the United Way of Eastern New Mexico.

Thompson said doing humanitarian work and volunteering go hand-in-hand with living military life.

“My husband gives so much and I want to support him and the community we live in,” she said.

A Red Cross employee of 10 months, the mother of three has volunteered with the organization for seven years in Alaska and New Mexico.

With her husband deployed, Thompson said working with non-profit groups also helps her keep perspective.

“You get to focus on other people’s issues and you don’t focus on your own all the time. You start to think maybe your need isn’t as great as you thought,” she said.

In addition to working at United Way, Caldwell volunteers with other organizations.

Caldwell, over the last two years, has averaged 40 hours a month volunteering with nearly half a dozen local groups, including Big Sister and clubs on base.

“I think when you’re at a base in a smaller city and there may not be a lot of the activities (you’re used to),” Caldwell said, “volunteering is such a great way to keep busy and give back and meet friends and feel like you actually belong to the community that you live in.”

Military spouses and airmen from Cannon make a significant contribution through volunteer efforts at Cannon and in surrounding communities, 2nd Lt. George Tobias of Cannon’s public affairs office said.

“While we’re stationed here, Clovis and Portales are our homes,” he said.

According to base officials, there are approximately 500 airmen and their dependents from the base who volunteer in the local community for over 100 local agencies and events.

During the aftermath of the March 23 tornado alone, approximately 600 Cannon volunteers logged an estimated 3,400 hours toward recovery efforts, base officials said.